As with all software synths, the more processing power you have the better -- it's not that you can't run Reaktor on a Pentium 233MHz machine (you can), but that you will manage more notes and simultaneous sounds with a faster one. The minimum system requirements for the Mac are OS 7.6.1 or higher, PPC 603 120MHz, and 32Mb RAM, while OS 8.01 or higher, PPC 604 233MHz and 64Mb are recommended.
(There's no video for Reaktor v2.3 yet. Please contribute to MR and add a video now!)
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS REAKTOR
Huge range of sounds and possibilities.
Lots of finished Ensembles and Instruments for the casual user.
Regular new downloadable designs available on the web site.
Needs a fast processor to fully exploit the possibilities.
Latency is very dependent on individual soundcard drivers.
Creating instruments from scratch requires a lot of dedication.
An awesome application for real-time synthesis and sampling of many kinds. It will work on slower computers, but those with more powerful machines will have bigger smiles on their faces.
The design team at Native Instruments have certainly been busy since I reviewed their Generator 1.5 PC software synth back in the September '98 issue of SOS. This ambitious modular design allowed you to assemble up to 16 different instruments, each with up to 64 voices, and control them via MIDI. The sounds were created entirely by the software, using 32-bit real-time signal processing and sample rates from 22kHz to a rather academic 132kHz. Native Instruments have now updated Generator to version 2.0, and introduced two completely new products, Transformator and Reaktor -- both also launched as version 2.0 to keep the product range in sync. And as if that wasn't enough, they've also ported all three to the Mac.
Transformator 2.0 is a stand-alone program that provides sampling and granular synthesis with up to 16 instruments, each with up to 64 voices and controllable by MIDI. Reaktor 2.0, the program under review here, combines the features of both Generator and Transformator, giving a single application capable of both oscillator-based synthesis, sampling and granular synthesis -- a powerful combination indeed. Existing owners of Generator can upgrade to the new models as well.
Understanding The NI User Interface
One of the beauties of the user interface that NI use across all their products is that you can work at various levels. At the heart of every design is a collection of Modules, which provide basic functions such as oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. These can be connected using virtual patch cords to build an instrument to any specification you like, as long as your computer is powerful enough to run it. This process is exactly the same as setting up a patch on a modular analogue synth, although NI go way beyond most hardware synths by providing several hundred Modules (there are 35 oscillators alone!). For those who want to create sounds that are a little different from the norm, there are also logic gates, slew limiters, parabolic shapers -- even individual knobs, switches, faders and LED Modules are provided.
However, to prevent every user having to re-invent the wheel, a separate selection of ready-built Macros is also available. If, for instance, you want to use a Minimoog-style oscillator that has switched triangle, variable pulse width, and sawtooth waveforms, along with Course and Fine pitch controls, you'll find that the Osc3wave Macro does just this, and will save you a huge amount of design time (it contains 12 Modules). Several hundred Macros are supplied in the library, including mixers, a choice of 17 envelope generators, step sequencers, microtonal scale tuning... the list goes on and on. Using a Macro also removes much of the donkey work involved in connecting more basic Modules, since all the boring bits such as attaching knobs or sliders to the Module terminals is also done for you (more on these controls in a moment).
When several Modules are connected together in a window on screen, they form a Structure. This concept can initially be confusing, since Macros also have their own Structures that can be opened in a further window, but as long as you remember that the Module is the simplest item on offer it becomes clearer. The Structure windows are where you connect everything together using virtual patch cords by dragging the mouse from one connection point to another on a different Module.
Once you have a completely functioning Structure of Modules or Macros (with suitable connections for MIDI control at one end and an audio output at the other) it becomes an Instrument, and gets its own front Panel. This is where the knobs, sliders, switches, and indicators appear, and you can drag and drop these in the Panel window as you wish to design your own graphic interface. By assigning controls to MIDI controller numbers, real-time automation is also possible.
REAKTOR23_-SIT.sit (2.74 MiB / 2.88 MB)
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REAKTORMAKER-SIT.sit (15.71 KiB / 16.09 KB)
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Architecture: PPC only
At least 37MB of RAM (recommended 45MB)
Emulating this? It should run fine under: SheepShaver